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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 13:43 GMT
Harbhajan was lucky, says judge
Judge John Hansen
Hansen said he was not influenced by external pressure
The judge who cleared India's Harbhajan Singh of racial abusing Australia's Andrew Symonds says human error saved the player from a bigger punishment.

Harbhajan was fined for a lesser charge of verbal abuse but John Hansen said he could have imposed a different penalty had he been aware of his past record.

In 2001 Harbhajan was fined and banned for attempting to intimidate umpires.

"He can feel himself fortunate that he reaped the benefit of these database and human errors," he said.

Hansen revealed Harbhajan could have received a one-match ban had he known about the event, which occurred in a series against South Africa.

Alex Trickett - BBC Sport

He said he had considered reopening the sentencing process when he was belatedly made aware of the matter, but could not.

"If I had been aware of the serious transgression in November 2001 I would have required more extensive submissions as to the offense in mitigation which could have led to a different penalty," said Hansen.

"Overnight I have given earnest consideration to the Code of Conduct to see if it empowers me to reopen the sentencing process. Regrettably I have concluded that I cannot do so and the penalty imposed by me must stand.

"At the end of the day Mr. Singh can feel himself fortunate that he has reaped the benefit of these database and human errors."

Earlier this month, the India spinner had been found guilty of calling Symonds, Australia's only mixed-race player, a "monkey" during the second Test in Sydney this month.

The charge was downgraded and at the appeal hearing Harbhajan pleaded admitted to using abusive language and was fined half his match fee and is free to play.

Hansen insisted the prospect of India possibly abandoning the tour of Australia if the ruling went against their player did not influence him.

"I have not been persuaded to the necessary level required that the words were said," Hansen wrote in his judgement.

"I need to be sure and if I am left with reasonable uncertainty, then I must find in favour of Mr Singh.

"There was a direct conflict as to whether the word was used.

"There are cultural accent and language differences and it is accepted some of Mr Singh's remarks were in his own language.

"There remains a possibility of a misunderstanding in this heated situation."

Hansen also rejected the suggestion that the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Cricket Australia reached an agreement which he simply sealed with his ruling.

"It is incorrect to suggest that there was some sort of an agreement reached between Australian and Indian cricket authorities that I simply rubber-stamped," said Hansen.

"I also wish to add that while I was aware of the media furore surrounding this matter, no-one has attempted to apply direct pressure to obtain an outcome."

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